Staying Connected to Nature While Connected by Fiber in Wisconsin

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Sand Haven Campground is, as its new owners say, in the middle of nowhere, and that’s just perfect for regulars and newcomers to this 116-site, full-amenity seasonal destination in the woods and fields of north-central Wisconsin.

Sand Haven opens for the season on April 15 but that doesn’t mean staying connected online here has to be taxing. Thanks to a fiber connection from Citizens Connected in nearby New Auburn, visitors to Sand Haven have the option to stay connected to their families, entertainment options, and even their jobs.

Steve and Dani Casselman bought the 68-acre rural site two years ago. Their headquarters is a spacious lodge that serves as host to regular gatherings for music and other entertainment, and for a router system that provides fiber-based connectivity to the 500 to 750 campers that can be there at any time before the camp shuts down for the season on Oct. 15.

The seasonality is what prompted the Casselmans themselves to buy Sand Haven Campground after 20 years operating a year-round, cabins-based resort in Minnesota not far from the Canadian border. Now, they unplug themselves each winter and head to their second home in Las Vegas.

The fiber-fast broadband service, as well as phone and video, from Citizens Connected are available year-round and always on, of course, to Sand Haven and the surrounding community nestled in the historic Blue Diamond Recreation Area with the Chippewa Morraine Recreation Area nearby.

“With the rural beauty and simplicity of our area, which includes many lakes, swamps, forests, valleys, and recreational opportunities, there are a lot of tourists that take advantage of the numerous campgrounds,” says Citizens Connected marketing representative Jill Petska. The company has a lot of experience now ensuring wireless reaches every corner of many of these facilities.

Casselman, meanwhile, says their clientele centers on a growing number of regulars who have been coming back year after year. Many of them come in just for the weekend, and many of them are, in fact, neighbors back home.

“We’re about 40 miles from Eau Claire and 90 miles from the Twin Cities, but most of our guests come from our surrounding area, including some who live only a few blocks from each other at home,” Casselman says.

While the appeal is hanging out with friends and nature – getting away from work and the stresses and busyness of daily life – there is a fair number who stay connected to their jobs, but only when they need to, Casselman says. They include a financing specialist for an RV company, people with information technology jobs, a few fire chiefs and police officers, and even one person for whom this connectivity is a lifeline, perhaps literally.

“We have one camper who lives here in the summer and goes home to Texas in the winter. He has a pacemaker that sends signals to his doctor back home every 90 seconds,” Casselman says. “With connectivity across the campground, he doesn’t have to come to the lodge to do that.”

That connectivity is accomplished by creating access points to push the connectivity around the campground at Sand Haven and numerous other campgrounds in the Citizens Connected service area.

Burying the fiber along with other utility lines when a campground is first built is the easiest way to accomplish that task, says Citizens Connected technical services director Ryan Hartzell. For deployments at locations like Sand Haven, particular care has to be taken not to cut existing water and sewer lines and other buried infrastructure, Hartzell says, while WiFi towers must be installed with consideration given to lines of sight amid growing trees.

Josh Perrin, Citizens Connected plant manager, says the work can be challenging, and that there’s a lot of labor involved in properly running fiber through campgrounds and properly creating access points. “But it’s the most reliable way to go, and definitely worth it in the long run,” he says.

Communities or Neighborhoods Featured Above

Beresford, South Dakota
A thriving small city, Beresford’s population has grown nearly 10% the past decade. Beresford owns its own electric network and telephone/internet/cable company and operates two parks with playgrounds, bike trails, and golf.
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Beresford, South Dakota

Beresford, South Dakota
A thriving small city, Beresford’s population has grown nearly 10% the past decade. Beresford owns its own electric network and telephone/internet/cable company and operates two parks with playgrounds, bike trails, and golf.
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Durand, Wisconsin
Durand is a traditional Midwest small town with a strong industrial base and schools, shops, and dining in the Chippewa Valley. Scenic drives offer easy access to outdoor opportunities including biking, fishing, and hiking.
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Durand, Wisconsin

Durand, Wisconsin
Durand is a traditional Midwest small town with a strong industrial base and schools, shops, and dining in the Chippewa Valley. Scenic drives offer easy access to outdoor opportunities including biking, fishing, and hiking.
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Boise City, Oklahoma
Incorporated in 1825, Boise City is a thriving, tight-knit town. Explore its museum and visit the nearby autographs that Santa Fe Trail pioneers carved in rocks in the 1800’s. And the Santa Fe Daze festival can’t be missed!
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Boise City, Oklahoma

Boise City, Oklahoma
Incorporated in 1825, Boise City is a thriving, tight-knit town. Explore its museum and visit the nearby autographs that Santa Fe Trail pioneers carved in rocks in the 1800’s. And the Santa Fe Daze festival can’t be missed!